Pol Espargaro

Tom's Tech Treasures: Yamaha's New Exhaust And Swingarm, Aprilia's Holeshot Device


Rear wheel cover on the GP19 and carbon swingarm.
David Emmett: The full set of rear aerodynamics on the Ducati Desmosedici GP19, from the swingarm spoiler to the rear wheel covers. The rear wheel cover mounting points are clearly visible: at the rear of the chain tensioner, and at the front below the aluminum bracket with holes. The rear swingarm spoiler caused huge controversy at the start of the year, and now all manufacturers bar KTM have one.
Ducati used a loophole in the regulations to use the swingarm spoiler and wheel covers, but this loophole will be closed for 2020. For next season, all parts which are not part of the structural part of the motorcycle will be classified as part of the aero body, and so their designs will have to be homologated, with one update allowed during the season. So Ducati can start the season with one spoiler, and alter it once during the year.


Lighter front mudguard on the KTM RC16.
Peter Bom: Although it is a little bit difficult to see in this photo, the mudguard ends immediately after the double L of Bull. This leaves more of the front tire exposed, helping it to run a little cooler and prevent overheating. Some KTM riders have complained of this previously.

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Aragon MotoGP Saturday Round Up: The Peak Of Perfection

In all likelihood, how you view Sunday's MotoGP race at Aragon will be a matter of perception. For many people, it will be a forgettable affair, the race over after the first couple of corners, Marc Márquez clearing off into the distance. For a few, it will be the greatest display of motorcycle racing they have ever seen. Both views are valid, because, in all likelihood, Marc Márquez will win Sunday's race by something approaching the largest margin in a dry MotoGP race ever.

That might seem like a bold prediction, but just look at Márquez' performance so far this weekend. In FP1, he came within a quarter of a second of the outright lap record. In FP2, he was posting times in race trim to match his rivals best laps on brand new soft tires. In FP4, he was a 'mere' four tenths faster than Maverick Viñales, but of the 17 full laps he posted in the session, 6 were faster than Viñales' best lap. And 10 were faster than Fabio Quartararo's fastest lap in the session, the Frenchman finishing third in the session.

Securing pole position was almost a formality, his 61st pole maintaining his 50% record. (And stop to think how insane that is, that Márquez starts from pole in half of the races he contests.) He was a third of a second faster than second-place man Fabio Quartararo, and didn't really look like he was trying. He had time to spare on ramping up the pressure on his rivals, choosing his position to make sure they knew he was there, and coming through.

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Aragon MotoGP Thursday Round Up: The Zarco Situation, Wild, Wild Retirement Rumors, And How Fabio Goes Fast

It was supposed to be a quiet year for rider rumors. Most riders have a contract for 2020, and much of the speculation had been about when negotiations for 2021 would start. The biggest controversy looked like being whether Takaaki Nakagami would get a 2020 Honda RC213V or a 2019 bike.

Then we came back from summer break, and it's all been insane since then. First there were the reports of Jorge Lorenzo talking to Ducati about a possible return for 2020, taking Jack Miller's seat at Pramac Ducati. Then on Sunday night at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, KTM's home race, we learned that Johann Zarco had told KTM that he wanted to leave at the end of 2019, after just one year of his two-year contract.

So far, so shocking. On Tuesday, KTM announced they were replacing Zarco with immediate effect, and giving his bike to Mika Kallio to ride. Zarco was left without a ride for the rest of the season, and facing an uncertain future. More about that in a moment.

Pulling the rug

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KTM MotoGP Tech Director Sebastian Risse Interview, Part 1: On Progress, And Building A Bike For Different Riding Styles

KTM came into MotoGP with big ambitions. At the presentation of their MotoGP project at their home Grand Prix in Austria in 2016, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer was clear: "For sure we will face a learning curve when we go into a segment but we will reach the podium and the dream of my life is to be world champion in MotoGP." The learning curve has been steep indeed, but in two-and-a-half seasons, the KTM RC16 has gone from the back of the grid to closing in on the top five.

Is that fast enough for KTM? At Silverstone, I spoke to Sebastian Risse, KTM's MotoGP Technical Director, about the progress of the project and the lessons learned along the way. He was open about the toughness of the challenge, the highs and lows along the way, and the development trajectory of the bike.

The interview covered a lot of ground, including the benefits of having four riders in stead of two, the role played by Dani Pedrosa, and the process by which the feedback from riders is turned into a MotoGP machine.

The interview is in two parts. To kick off the first part of the interview, I wanted to get an old question out of the way which has been discussed many times. Would KTM be sticking with a steel trellis frame and WP suspension?

Sebastian Risse: Basically this is something outstanding, something different compared to our competitors. Historically we have a lot of experience with steel frames. Every class we conquered as KTM. Basically we finally conquered with the steel frame. So we learned how to use it for various very different applications, how to achieve different targets. We don’t see any point at the moment where we restrict ourselves in using it. In the other hand, we want to use it as our strong point because we know how to handle this material. We have the process. We are quick in making, modifying, updating. We would also give up on this if we would start something with a different material.

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Misano MotoGP Test Friday Notes: Much Work For Yamaha, Honda, KTM, and Michelin

The Misano MotoGP test may well turn out to be more important than it might seem at first glance. Perhaps precisely because it was a private test, and the teams could work in some privacy away from the prying eyes of most media. The pit lane was closed, and there were virtually no media present, with the honorable exception of Italian stalwarts GPOne.com.

It meant that factories could test early versions of their 2020 bikes with relatively little interference from outside, other than the usual crowd of engineers from rival factories gathered round as they warm up their bikes. And that is precisely what Yamaha, Honda, and KTM in particular spent their time doing, while Ducati and Suzuki debuted a few parts which may or may not see use next season.

New rubber

It wasn't only the motorcycle manufactures. Michelin also brought two updates, a rear tire with a different casing to help improve performance, which was also tested at Barcelona and Brno, and a new front tire with a stronger casing, to help give support in braking. Both tires received positive feedback, the riders praising the front in particular.

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Misano MotoGP Test Thursday Notes: Yamaha Lead On Busy Day Of Testing

The advantage of a private test is that work can take place away from the prying eyes of the media. Some of the MotoGP manufacturers, most notably Yamaha and Honda, have taken advantage of the fact that the two-day test at Misano is private, and have debuted various new parts for both this year and next. With the pit lane closed to the media, the factories can work more freely.

The work going on means you can set little stock by the order on the timesheets. The two satellite Petronas Yamaha riders were fastest, but as they have mainly been working on race setup, this should hardly come as a surprise. Nor should the fact that Marc Márquez was third fastest, the Repsol Honda rider always fast under all conditions. But riders such as Alex Rins were not focused on a single fast lap, and so comparisons are difficult.

Yamaha had the most intriguing test program. Factory riders Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales had a lot of parts to test. Both riders tried a second version of the 2020 engine they debuted at Brno, and though it was a slight improvement, much more was needed. "The step is not as big as we need, but in the right direction," was Rossi's verdict, while Viñales was a little more pessimistic, saying it was not the step they had been hoping for.

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Cormac Shoots Silverstone: Highs And Lows At A Sweeping Circuit


Jack Miller keeps it low at Silverstone. He had a good weekend, though a loss of grip hampered him at the end


Compare and contrast Andrea Iannone's body position on the Aprilia with Miller on the Ducati. Not the same corner, but Iannone is obviously uncomfortable

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Austria MotoGP Subscriber Notes, Part 2: Yamaha's Revival, The Rookies Come Good, And Tolerance For Talent

There was so much to talk about after the Austrian round of MotoGP. The stunning battle and spectacular last lap between Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez, in which Dovizioso emerged triumphant. The bizarre story surrounding Jack Miller's contract and Jorge Lorenzo, a rider who wasn't even present in Spielberg. And to top it all, Johann Zarco's shock announcement he would be leaving KTM at the end of 2019, with no clearly defined plan.

While all of this dominated the headlines, there was so much more going on at the Red Bull Ring that got lost in all the drama. Developments which promise much for the future, both for next year and for the rest of the season. This was a weekend where Yamaha made a comeback, and especially where this year's crop of rookies started to shine.

That Fabio Quartararo should have a good race is no longer really news. The Frenchman has slotted in perfectly to the Petronas Yamaha SRT team, and has shone from the very first weekend. He has had a couple of podiums before, but the podium at the Red Bull Ring should count as something very special indeed. Barcelona and Assen, the two previous races where he got on the podium, are known to be Yamaha tracks. The Red Bull Ring is anything but.

No business being so fast

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Austria MotoGP Saturday Round Up: The Real Gap Disguised By A Superlative Pole

Is four tenths of a second a realistic gap between first and second on the grid at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg? It doesn't represent the real strength of the riders on the first two or three rows. The gap separating the group capable of battling for the podium is a couple of tenths, give or take.

And it doesn't represent a realistic pace around the Red Bull Ring. Sure, you can flirt with laps of 1'22 for a lap or two, but to do so requires burning through your tires at an unsustainable rate. You can get down to the mid to low 1'23s on both the soft and medium rear Michelins, but to do so requires you to stress the edge of the tire to the extreme, overheating it and wearing it out in the space of 5 laps, not the 28 laps the race will last.

The soft will do race distance – Michelin expect most riders to be choosing between the medium and the soft rears – but it takes a little more careful management. If anything is going to be a limiting factor at the Red Bull Ring, it is going to be fuel. Spend 28 laps with the throttle wide open for most of the lap, and you burn through gasoline at a rate of knots.

Record breaker

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